We talk about “ministry” as though it is self-evident what that term means and implies. This paper will attempt to briefly define my biblical philosophy of church ministry by addressing the following questions: What is the purpose of ministry? What is “church” all about? Why does the church exist? These are fundamental questions that a biblical theology of ministry must answer.
Christian ministry is the activity and responsibility of the local church in the fulfillment of its biblically defined mandate in the world. The ministry of the church can be defined in several ways. Firstly, the ministry of the Christian church can be defined as the fulfillment of the Great Commandment of our Lord: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matt. 22:37, 39). Secondly, Christian ministry can be defined in terms of the Great Commission of our Lord: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19-20). Thirdly, the process and objective of Christian ministry can be defined in the apostle Paul’s terms as “the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect person, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we…may grow up in all things into Him who is the head, that is, Christ” (Eph. 4:12-15). Fourthly, ministry can be defined in terms of the model of the early church – viz. teaching the apostles’ doctrine, engaging in fellowship, commemorating the breaking bread, praying together, caring for one another, worshiping God, and actively evangelizing the community (Acts 2:42-47). This continues to be the basis of biblical, balanced ministry today.
From these summary texts and the broad scope of Scripture, it is evident that Christian ministry has as its priority the worship of God, followed by service for God in the proclamation of the gospel (the fruit of which is the baptism of repentant sinners), and the edification of the saints.